The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 271, titled:
The Astrology of Chiron, with Melanie Reinhart
With Chris Brennan and guest Melanie Reinhart
Episode originally released on September 16, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released January 10th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and this is The Astrology Podcast. Today, I’m going to be talking with Melanie Reinhart about the astrology of Chiron. So this is Episode 271, and I’m recording it on Monday, September 14, 2020, starting at 11:04 AM, in Denver, Colorado.
Hi, Melanie. Welcome to the show.
MELANIE REINHART: Hi, Chris, and thanks so much for inviting me to have a conversation with you.
CB: Thank you. I’m excited to do this episode. It’s been one I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and a lot of listeners have asked me to do an episode Chiron. I did an episode, just in general, on the asteroids, earlier this year, finally, with Demetra George.
MR: I saw that. It was lovely.
CB: Yeah, I was glad to have that discussion. But one of the points that came up, that was interesting that we noted, is that she had focused more on Ceres and Vesta and Juno and didn’t cover Chiron as much in her book, but yours was one of the first books that really set the stage. And early in my studies, in the early 2000s, there were two major books on Chiron that were out there, and yours was really one of the main ones, and it seems like it’s been one of the most influential ones in establishing Chiron as something that a lot of modern astrologers use in practice.
And really quickly, the title of your book is Chiron and the Healing Journey, which was published in 1989, right?
MR: Yes, and then there was a revision I did under my own imprint. It came out in 2010.
MR: The first one was published by Penguin.
CB: Right. Yeah, it was part of the Penguin Arkana series, which was a really amazing series at the time.
MR: Oh, it was really wonderful. Really wonderful.
CB: It had Geoffrey Cornelius’ The Moment of Astrology and your book, and a few other really major books at the time.
MR: Yes. The series editor was Howard Sasportas.
CB: Oh, wow, okay. I think by the time of the second edition of your book, it was Erin Sullivan?
MR: Yes, after Howard died. She had been working with him on it, but she took over that and fought very hard to keep the thing going. Penguin basically abandoned it…
CB: Okay. I was wondering what happened.
MR: …which was a pity because, actually, when the series began, they had a marvelous, overall editor called Robin Watefield. He was a classic scholar and very much astrology-friendly.
CB: He was a really notable classic scholar.
MR: Oh, absolutely, yes–and a really nice bloke and very astrology-friendly. And he went onto greater things and basically left a big vacuum in the overall editorship. And apart from his shepherding of it, really, Penguin wasn’t really equipped with the subject material.
MR: And they just kind of abandoned it and just didn’t reprint stuff. Bit by bit, the whole series went out of print. It was very sad.
CB: Yeah. Well, this was back when major publishers, like Penguin, were still doing astrology books, which it seems like many have moved away.
CB: And Howard Sasportas’ The Gods of Change was one of the books in that series which was also an amazing book.
MR: That’s right.
CB: But let’s talk about your work. So, first, I wanted to introduce you to my audience and talk a little bit about your background and some of the things that you’ve done, just to give some context for your work. So in your bio, on your website, it says that you’ve been practicing astrology since 1975?
MR: Yeah. Well, that was when I did my first piece of paid-for work. I’d been reading charts already for a few years before that.
CB: Okay. So that was the first time you did a paid consultation.
CB: I always ask people, what do you consider the moment that you started being a practicing astrologer? And, for you, it’s the first time somebody paid you for a consultation?
MR: No, because I was already reading lots of charts actually before that, for a few years, and I took that equally seriously.
MR: But certainly, the first paid-for consultation, that felt like some little watershed. Also, very significant was that was the very month that I actually met Dane Rudhyar.
MR: So I was living in the States at that time, in Massachusetts, and he did a weekend workshop in The Astrology Center, I believe it was called, in New York City. And I traveled down to New York for this and had a weekend in heaven meeting Dane Rudhyar and so on. He was quite wonderful.
He was the one who really gave me the shove to encourage me to start charging and start thinking of myself as a professional, which I wasn’t really before. I was taking it seriously, but that was very special.
CB: Was Rudhyar one of your primary influences early on in astrology?
MR: Absolutely, yes. Astrology had come into my life when I was 10-years-old under very interesting circumstances, in light of what I focused on later. I fell and broke my arm rather badly, up near the shoulder, and I had a lot of time off school because I had to be in this huge plaster cast.
MR: So movement was difficult and getting around and all that. But the local library was at the end of our street. So instead of going to school, I would kind of waddle down the road, this big, plastic cast thing, and spend my day in the library.
Now, this was back in Rhodesia as it was–Zimbabwe, as it’s become–basically, an agrarian economy. And so, there was one shelf, about yea wide, I kid you not, called Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion. That was it. This was the national library of Rhodesia.
However, even a small bookshelf like that, if you really read the stuff and really think about it, you can get years of inquiry and thinking and wondering and being philosophically-stimulated. And there was one little book on astrology–I wish I remembered the title and the author, but I don’t–and my memory of that is so vivid.
I remember, because I had my arm in this big cast out here, so I propped the book on the cast and I was reading like this; and I absolutely knew that there was way more to astrology than was in this little book. So I was left feeling really frustrated–it was the only one on astrology–and I just absolutely knew that there was so much more to it. And in that moment, the passion to find out and to learn more was ignited.
So lacking classes or books–because it was war-time and sanctions and all that–I simply memorized all the Sun signs. And then I would ask every single person I met their birthday, and I would think and write notes and see how it checked out with this little book, and ponder and wonder and so forth; and I did that for years and years, just thinking about it, mulling it over.
I remember, also, my father showing me some of the constellations at night; vivid memories of that against a beautiful, black, African sky.
CB: You were born in Zimbabwe, and you spent the first part of your life there.
CB: How did that come about?
MR: So my father was born in South Africa–his father was from Yorkshire–and my mother was born in Dublin, and they actually met out in Zimbabwe.
CB: Okay. Did you find astrology definitely at the age of 10, or was it around 10?
MR: Yeah, it was 10.
CB: That’s a beautiful story. So that started your lifelong interest in it.
CB: You said you were in New York by the time you met Rudhyar, when you were living in the US.
CB: At what point did your studies really accelerate, or was it really just full-on from there?
MR: They accelerated when I left school and went down to Cape Town, to university.
MR: And compared to Zimbabwe, Cape Town was this major metropolis and it was possible to get astrology books and things like that.
CB: What was the timeframe? And what was the astrological community like there in South Africa at that point?
MR: I didn’t connect with it at all, which is really interesting because I have a dear astrological friend, Darby Costello, and she actually arrived in Africa the year that I left. So we were like ships passing in the night and never met there, but met back in London, so that step there.
A friend gave me a book by Dane Rudhyar called The Pulse of Life for my 20th or my 19th birthday, and I just had this epiphany when I read it. I wept. I had just like an absolute ecstasy of connecting with the way this man thought and recognizing myself in the astrology. And it was like, this was what I’d been looking for; I was so inspired. And that connection was part of the reason why I left Africa. I didn’t really know anything about the astrological community in England and how rich it was, but I knew, at least, I’ll be able to get more of Rudhyar’s books and so forth.
So I did leave, and I lived, for many years, either directly in or connected to a spiritual community in the Sufi tradition. And when I arrived there to take up my residence, it turned out that the man–the teacher who was focalizing this community–he was only the publisher of Dane Rudhyar’s work. So there was the complete first edition, hardback, original publications of Rudhyar, which took up a big amount of the community bookshelf.
MR: And it was through him that I first met Rudhyar, and then the second time was when I went down to New York, to the workshop.
CB: And so, the Sufi community was in the UK?
CB: Okay, got it. So then, eventually, you make that personal connection with Rudhyar. He encourages you to dive into the practice of astrology, which must have been really compelling at that point, if he was your main person…
MR: Oh, yeah. It was like God on high had given me this crucial bit of encouragement.
CB: Sure. Let’s see. Why don’t we jump into our main topic, which is Chiron was discovered on November 1, 1977 by an astronomer named Charles Kowal.
CB: And this began a period, in the late ‘70s and early 1980s, when it seemed like astrologers started slowly getting interested in studying minor planetary bodies and asteroids, like Ceres and Vesta and Juno, and then, eventually, some astrologers started studying Chiron.
At what point did you get interested in it, or start researching it?
MR: Immediately–when I heard about its discovery. Unusually, it was immediately named by the person who discovered it. Usually, a whole, big numbering and naming process can go on, which can take years for a name to be confirmed; and it has to be agreed upon by a committee, which is the International Astronomical Union.
But in this case, the astronomer who discovered Chiron knew some background mythology, and he could see that there was a relationship between Saturn and Uranus. So, in that sense, that is part of the genealogy behind Chiron’s legacy and so forth.
So he named it Chiron and the name stuck; it was named immediately. Sometimes, it’s only named a long time after; and it was only six months before ephemerises came out.
CB: Oh, wow. Okay, that’s quick. So he named it…
MR: Very quickly.
CB: …because it orbits between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.
MR: Of Saturn and Uranus, yes. And the other thing was that in the first ephemerises–Tony Joseph was the name, I believe–came out within six months. And there was an excellent introductory essay, just two or three pages, and I was very excited because it was exactly along the same lines that I had already been thinking.
So I was interested immediately for entirely personal reasons because I knew the mythology of Chiron and the whole notion of the Wounded Healer was already meaningful in my life.
CB: Had you already studied mythology extensively up to that point, or was that a major piece of your…
MR: I wouldn’t say extensively, but I had studied quite a lot, in a way, using the planets as my base and kind of digging around from that. But I’m not a proper student of mythology like some in our community are.
CB: Okay. Let’s see. So Chiron was the first of a new class of bodies, called centaurs, that were discovered, which are bodies orbiting between the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt, which is really far out there.
MR: No. In the beginning, when this group of Kuiper Belt objects–or let me put that differently. Objects that were said to have originated in the Kuiper Belt were discovered, the whole group was called centaurs. There was a flurry of attempts to define these little beasts. And in the beginning, it seemed quite straightforward, to me, and it was logical and made sense and was kind of obvious.
In other words, there were a few distinguishing characteristics of these objects; one, was they all have very elliptical orbits; two, was that the orbits are very steeply-inclined to the ecliptic; and three, they all, with one exception I’ll mention maybe later, cross over the orbit of at least one of the classical planets.
MR: But the ‘centaur’ zone, if you like, is in between Jupiter and Pluto.
MR: So if they go in closer, into the asteroid belt, they’re not centaurs anymore, and if they go further out than Pluto, they’re not centaurs anymore. So they’re kind of in this zone which links the outer part of the visible planets to the invisible planets; and, to me, that symbolism absolutely speaks volumes.
MR: Do you want me to say a bit more about that?
CB: I want to get into that. I like that actually because that’s one of the access points–that’s really interesting to me–in your work for understanding Chiron as not just a mythology, but also, the astronomical properties.
MR: The astronomy–it’s so, so eloquent. Oh, I love it.
MR: Astronomy, I mean.
CB: So let me throw out a few other preliminary things really quickly. So Chiron has been variously classified as an asteroid, a minor planet, a dwarf planet, or even a comet.
CB: Some astrologers quickly became interested in researching it. I tried to compile a quick bibliography — and you can let me know if this is correct or not. But one of the early astrologers–or one of the first that I’ve been told–who started working with Chiron was an astrologer named Zane Stein.
CB: Then there was another book by Erminie Lantero…
MR: Oh, yes. Now, I did read that.
CB: …titled The Continuing Discovery of Chiron, that came out in 1984.
MR: Fantastic book, yes.
CB: Okay, you like that. And then Demetra’s book, Asteroid Goddesses, came out in June of 1986. There was another book by Barbara Hand Clow that came out on Chiron in 1987. Your book, Chiron and the Healing Journey, was first published in 1989.
CB: And then there were other subsequent books, for example, by Martha Lang-Wescott that also dealt with both asteroids, as well as hypothetical planets. Is there anybody else that I should mention?
MR: Two more — Richard Nolle. This is an early one; I think it was just called Chiron.
MR: There were some great insights in there. And then, much more recently, Adam Gainsburg, Chiron and the Wisdom of a Deep — something about the wisdom of the heart. Beautiful book.
CB: Okay. Brilliant.
MR: Adam’s is really recent and Richard Nolle is like way back; one of the first people.
CB: Okay. Yeah, Adam’s book is Chiron: The Wisdom of a Deeply Open Heart.
MR: That’s it.
CB: September 2006. All right, so that’s some of the early history, and that places you, in terms of when your book came out, and also showing that there was a lot of early interest. So your book was published 12 years after Chiron was first discovered; and so, you’d been working with it for at least over a decade at that point.
MR: Yeah, I got into it immediately. And also, in my own chart, I have Chiron in Sagittarius opposite my Sun in Gemini; it visually stands out in the chart. So I sort of casually thought, well, if this little unknown object is going to be relevant for me, it should be fairly easy to see, in terms of life events and transits.
And then, about six months later, I realized, oh, my god, by transit, Chiron was about to make conjunctions with every single one of my personal planets. So it was discovered in Taurus, and I have a whole band of planets in Taurus and Gemini. And I thought, oh, look at that. I thought, oh, well, if there is something in this for me or others, then my life should turn into a ring-side seat for the Chiron show because of about 10 years’ worth of conjunctions. My god, I had no idea what was coming down the tracks for me, I tell you.
And I learned everything that I learned about Chiron from this inner journey and then later from working with clients, and I feel that the journey I went on equipped me to do that work. There was an entire cosmology which rolled itself out as a result of my journey, and it went into areas of psychological work that were unheard of back then and are now not exactly ‘Top of the Pops’, but more and more people are understanding these themes and writing about them.
So amongst others, those include transgenerational trauma, and by the same token, transgenerational healing, and also, healing the historical wounds that are embedded in that ancestry; even including things that aren’t direct, personal wounds, things like cultural injustices and so forth. Obviously, coming from Rhodesia, there was really a lot to process, in terms of the colonial history that went on in Africa. My god, just unbelievable.
MR: And that was not really considered back then, even in the more enlightened versions of psychological treatments and all the rest of it, and so, I wrote about all of that kind of stuff in my book. And it’s lovely now to see that lots and lots of people are doing all kinds of really amazing work in exactly those areas, but at the time, I was very much on my own with that.
Even though I wasn’t a Jungian analyst, that framework, at least in the practice of it, I didn’t really feel met by it in the way that I was experiencing this process. I hesitate to use the word because I don’t want to be claiming anything, but it felt like a kind of process of shamanic initiation, which went on from 1983 until past 1989; and that period included the writing of the book, which felt to me like a thread–like an Ariadne’s thread type of thing.
In terms of the personal transits that I was watching from Chiron onto my chart–now, you might be able to talk yourself into lots of things interpretively in astrology, but you cannot fake transits that absolutely demonstrate the symbolism and the process.
MR: It was like a lifeline for me. So pretty soon, I began to get clients where it was the same; they were like walking, symbolic compendiums of the story of Chiron. And this actually pings me onto one of the questions that you wrote here, a listener question.
MR: The question is, “When do you feel you need to talk about Chiron?”
CB: Right, that came from a listener.
MR: Yes, from Zamboni.
CB: Yeah, Zamboni Funk.
MR: Yeah, there’s a very particular answer to that. First of all, I don’t feel I need to talk about Chiron, and I almost never try to interpret it; all I do is listen. And if what I’m hearing from my client who’s speaking is basically telling me a story–which is so obviously within the territory of Chiron–and there I hesitated because I now very much think of all the centaurs as a group. And when I say ‘all’, I should clarify I don’t use them all. I forgot the number; I think it’s around 400 centaurs now.
MR: There’s only about 20 of them which have actually been named, and of those even fewer have been researched. Me, I don’t think of myself as a researcher. I can only work with something that absolutely speaks to me and I can’t make that happen. So once that energy connection, almost like a full-body, energy connection has occurred then I do the so-called research; but all I’m doing is containing–like if you were painting. You might have a vision first and then you get out the paints and the oils and the brush.
So that’s what I try to do with words; try to paint a picture of what I’d already experienced–not just me, but hundreds and hundreds of clients. It got so bizarre that I sometimes thought, “My god, this really feels like these clients are coming to teach me about how Chiron works.” Unbelievable.
CB: Sure. So part of your process though was an empirical process of understanding what this new body meant, partially through paying attention to it in your own chart, and also, paying attention to it in the charts of clients.
MR: Indeed. So just to go back to Zamboni’s question, I really don’t feel like I need to talk about Chiron, I guess, maybe because I’ve worked so much with it. Mostly, I do end up talking about Chiron, and mostly, that’s because I can hear the story in what people are telling me.
One time, a man walked in limping, and he had fallen off a horse and injured his leg. Chiron was injured in his leg, and he was a centaur, so his horse ‘half’. And of course, he had a big Chiron transit, and I’m sitting there almost speechless because I don’t even know what to say.
CB: Sure. Well, let’s go back to square one. Let’s assume that anybody listening to this doesn’t have any idea what Chiron means or anything about the mythology. Let’s introduce the starting point.
You started studying it empirically, but also, there was a heavy use of mythology and a presumption that many astrologers were making, from the 1970s and ‘80s forward, that the name that was chosen for Chiron and the Greek myths associated with that actually had some deeper, symbolic significance that actually related to what it meant in astrology, right?
MR: Yeah, I think that’s true.
CB: I mean, is that true? I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
MR: Well, I don’t know about the assumption. I never really assumed that. It was just that everything seemed to fit.
CB: Right. I mean, do you think that the mythology of Chiron is relevant for its interpretation and meaning in astrology?
MR: Yes, I do.
MR: I do. And do you know, when I was actually writing the book–collected up these massive boxes of notes and so forth–I actually never even thought of writing a book; I was just working to try and understand it myself. It was Howard who made that suggestion, bless him. So he had Chiron in Scorpio, on the Midheaven, and he was the one who gave me the shove, gave me the prompt.
MR: Yeah, very nice.
CB: What is the myth associated with Chiron, or what parts of the myth are relevant for somebody that’s new to understanding Chiron mythology?
MR: Yeah, I would say that there’s a very important reflection for us astrologers of the meaning of Chiron. If you just studied the astronomy a little bit, it’s very graphic, and I love that. So, to me, if the name and the mythology and the astronomy check out with the astrology that you’re actually seeing, well, that’s good enough for me. That’s why I said I’m not really a researcher; I just kind of put stuff together.
Initially, that would be a resonance in my own process, and I don’t automatically assume it’s going to be of interest to anybody else. It’s usually a really long time before I have researched it and then begin to share and so forth. Essentially, the other centaurs that I work with–I don’t work with all 400-or-something of them–I only work with four, but each of them I learned about in the same way and ongoingly.
MR: Yeah, let me answer your question more directly. So we see that Chiron and the centaurs occupy the zone in the solar system that goes between Jupiter and Pluto. That zone includes the outer edges of the easily-visible planets and the ones that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but were discovered with massive technology, so it really is like two different worlds. They cross, to and fro, between these two worlds, the visible and the invisible.
Now that absolutely speaks volumes because we all know what the visible world is, at least, at the level of the senses. And the notion of the invisible worlds, well, that contains so much. It’s our own internal experience. It’s what’s known as the unconscious in some systems of psychology.
It’s the spirit world; that’s a more ancient and indigenous kind of a cosmology. But it’s totally a part of the human experience. It’s just been pushed out and derided and oppressed for so long that people don’t believe it, don’t believe in it. Regardless of the fact that many, many people do have experiences of the spirit world–through their dreams, through reveries, through spirit visitations, etc.–but they probably don’t speak about it, afraid that people will think they’re mad.
Likewise, people can communicate with animals. This is a natural thing that, like any gift, can be more developed in some people than others; but actually, it’s natural to be able to communicate with animals, and this is a very, very ancient thing. Communicating with plants, same thing. Flower healing, essences, all over the world, people are reviving the way of using plant essences, and the way it’s done is through a communion where you speak to the spirit of the plant, or more accurately, they speak to you. Now, you see, it’s that kind of consciousness that Chiron brings to us. Some people are very at home in that and others are, frankly, terrified and don’t want to know. Fair enough.
So this notion of crossing the borders and connecting different dimensions of experience–between the living and the dead, between the animals and the human, between the past and the future, whatever–and making that bridge, in Barbara Hand Clow’s lovely book, she calls Chiron the ‘rainbow bridge’. I think, partly, it’s this astronomical symbolism that evokes that.
CB: So Chiron acting as a bridge and bridging two worlds or two seemingly unconnected areas, and that partially is also reflected in the astronomy, as you described, as well as in the mythology of Chiron being half-human and half-animal.
MR: Exactly. In his image, in his very form is exactly that dilemma.
CB: Okay. For those that don’t know what that means in terms of Chiron being half-human and half-animal, what is the myth associated with that?
MR: Well, in the myth of his origins, Chiron’s father was Kronos, or Saturn, and his mother was a nymph called Philyra. Saturn was a god, a member of the Olympian gang and Philyra was a nymph. But gods and demigods often can shapeshift, so both of them had shapeshifted into being in their horse form and they were like that when Chiron was conceived.
When Chiron was born to Philyra, when he came out of the womb as half-horse, she was completely horrified and prayed to the gods to be made into anything other than she was, namely, the mother of a monster, as she saw it. So Chiron was abandoned, and in the time-honored manner of myth and legend, was found by a shepherd and rescued from certain death and taken to the great god, Apollo, who became his foster father.
So he was mentored and fostered by Apollo himself who taught him numerous skills; Apollo was also associated with healing. Very significantly, both he and his sister were said to both send and cure plagues. Chiron was taught all kinds of survival skills, and in a sense, he had almost like–one can imagine–the kind of initiation rites appropriate for a young man, young hero, whatever.
And there was an incident with some of the more unruly centaurs, the ones that don’t have any Olympian ancestors. They’re more like a seething, uncontrollable mob that used to rampage through towns and take wine and steal it, or take brides and steal them. They’re an image of just a raw, unbridled, vital force.
So those are the centaurs without any particular Olympian legacy or ancestry, and they often used to fight. In one of those fights, Chiron got wounded by an arrow from Hercules. There’s a lot of friezes, statues in the British Museum, some of them from the Parthenon, depicting the battle between Lapiths and the centaurs, and Hercules was often involved in those battles; it’s the time-honored battle between the so-called civilized and the so-called primitive. So, so evocative because, of course, a lot of that description rests on projection.
Anyway, Chiron was wounded in the leg; it depends on which version as to where, but it’s either the thigh or the knee. Another centaur was wounded in the foot, but that’s another story. And because the wound was poisoned, he couldn’t heal it; and as a demigod, he couldn’t die, so he lived. I think it’s either Apollodorus or Hesiod who gives the figure of 900-and-something years that he lived in mortal agony, unable to heal his own wound, but becoming a great mentor and wise man and healer himself in the process. And then, eventually, he changed places with Prometheus.
Prometheus–you might know the story–he was chained on a rock because he had mocked Zeus; probably not a very good idea, but that’s what he did.
MR: It’s a really interesting story, but too long to go into here. Prometheus is mainly known as the fellow who stole the fire from the gods. That’s like a comic strip version of it; there’s a whole background thing which is really thought-provoking, very interesting, and that part is in my book.
But anyway, the notion of changing places with somebody, that’s like the phrase, “walking a mile in someone’s moccasins;” it’s an awakening of compassion when you can really, really do that. And so, this was what freed both of them from their suffering and Chiron was able to die, meaning become immortalized, in this context, in the constellation of Centaurus, or some say, Sagittarius. There’s some scholarly discussion about which of those two constellations best portrays the storylines, and it does seem that Centaurus looks more like the insignia, or the story around Pholus.
But what is very interesting is that the two centaurs, they’re not that far away from each other. I mean, in sky terms, of course, it’s miles. If you look on a star map, the two centaurs actually look or point their arrows towards the Scorpion. And above the Scorpion is the so-called 13th sign, Ophiuchus, that psychically gets reported in the news and causes alarm and despondency because everybody thinks their zodiac signs are wrong and everything.
MR: But anyway, it’s a beautiful picture because both the centaurs, and also, Ophiuchus, are concerned with illness, sickness, and healing as well. And the Scorpion is also associated with poison and the power of transformation partly through the Pluto connection. When we look at Chiron and the centaurs, what we can see immediately is that Pluto and Chiron and the centaurs, to me, belong in the same category because of the astronomy.
So before Chiron and the centaurs were discovered, Pluto was the only orbit-crossing planet at such a steep angle to the ecliptic, and it was Dane Rudhyar who waxed lyrical about that decades before Chiron was discovered. He spoke about orbit-crossing in a similar way that he spoke about comets; that it was like the intrusion of new energy into an old system, or the bringing in of the light from out of the dark. Also, the purification–he spoke about the sense of something coming into the solar system, almost like an intervention and bringing new energy, new impulses of energy and so forth.
Now Rudolf Steiner–very interesting on the subject of comets; he spoke about a process of astral purification. So what we see is the comet’s tail getting brighter and brighter and brighter; he describes that as astral debris being burnt up, purifying the solar system as it goes. Very interesting. Temporarily, in 1987-88, or maybe a bit later, there was just a short period where Chiron got a comet classification because they thought they saw a tail that was brightening, but it didn’t really come to much.
Now what’s so interesting about Chiron, it keeps on being reclassified. I think it’s now settled because he’s now the chief centaur of the centaur gang. But before that, he has an asteroid number, a comet number, and of course, a minor planet appellation. The first name was a planetoid. Planetoid, asteroid, comet, then minor planet, and then this subcategory of centaur. The point is he’s kept all of those classifications. He hasn’t gone, “Oh, no, I’m not that.” It all fits; it all kind of works.
So a beautiful image of a process of transformation of our own core identity really. When we’re changing from who we thought we were into who we are becoming, we might move from planetoid to asteroid to comet, etc. And it’s not that any of those are wrong, and should be therefore thrown away, they’re all fine. It’s all part of the journey, and to me, that’s a very powerful symbol.
CB: Yeah, looks like on the Wikipedia entry, it still has the dual-classification. It says: “Although it was initially called an asteroid and classified only as a minor planet with the designation ”2060 Chiron”, it was later found to exhibit behavior typical of a comet. Today it is classified as both a minor planet and a comet, and is accordingly also known by the cometary designation 95P/Chiron.” So it still has this dual-astronomical role, which is really interesting in terms of tying back with the mythology of being half-human and half-animal.
MR: Exactly, and that thing of linking the inner world and the outer world. Yeah, so all of the above really speaks volumes. You see, Chiron actually cuts through Saturn’s orbit. Now I did make notes about this, as to when the last dates were. I think it was some point in 1992, Chiron went in through Saturn’s orbit at about 6° of Leo, and it was January 1999, it came back out through the portal of zero-and-some minutes of Sagittarius, and it will come in and out through those two signs for quite a few passes still.
CB: So it has a 50-year orbital cycle, right?
MR: That’s right. It’s just over 50 years, but fairly even; sort of between 50 and 51-ish, but that’s pretty regular. Of course, because of the orbital eccentricity, you can’t divide up the Chiron cycle neatly like you can Saturn and say, well, roughly every seven to nine years, you get a big phone call from Saturn. You can’t do that with Chiron because the first square can occur any age from–I think it’s about five when I was researching this. You can get it as young as five-years-old, or you can get it in your early 20s; it depends on which sign Chiron is in.
CB: So because of its highly elliptical orbit, it’s more like an oval rather than a circle. And it moves through some signs of the zodiac very quickly, like Virgo and Libra in about two years; whereas, it moves through other signs, like Pisces and Aries, very slowly and takes eight years.
MR: Correct. Absolutely right; and there you can see that Chiron actually moves through the orbit of Saturn physically. At the aphelion, in other words, it’s furthest distance from the Sun, it goes way up to Uranus, but doesn’t actually cross it’s orbital path. It goes into what’s rather confusingly called ‘this fear’ of Uranus; it goes to the inside, but not actually right across the mean average orbital path.
So there it’s really obvious because Saturn takes roughly 2-½ years to go through one sign and Uranus takes about 7 to 8 years. Likewise, when Chiron’s really near Saturn, or inside Saturn, it’ll go really quickly through its signs; and when it’s approaching the aphelion, it’ll be long, like Uranus, 7 to 8 years.
CB: Okay. Let’s see. So going back to the mythology, it seems like some of the main keywords that astrologers have developed, especially from the mythology, are ideas of Chiron being the Wounded Healer and that being a major recurring motif that astrologers use when they’re discussing Chiron.
CB: And that’s partially due to the idea that he was somebody that was poisoned, but because he was partially immortal, he couldn’t die.
CB: He also had the skills to heal other people without being able to heal himself.
MR: Correct. There’s another thing. In fact, this was where I was going when I spoke about the fact that Chiron goes through the orbit of Saturn. To me, that particular astronomy also tells us something when we link it with our knowledge of astrology.
So if we think of Saturn as established structures, obviously, that’s not a keyword description of Saturn, but the meaning of Saturn includes reference to established structures–history, tradition, the status quo, what we take for granted, also, our psychological patterning and defenses, whether they’re known to us or unknown to us and so on.
And so, when we’re in a process of change, it’s very painful for the ego. Even if it’s a change we’ve been working for or intending or working towards, it can still be very, very painful. When you take yourself to the edge of your structures, as you get to know about them, it can be exceptionally painful. There’s a way in which this endless looping around that Chiron does through the orbit of Saturn, it makes me think of kneading bread or digging in the garden or something. Something has to be cultivated, and I think there is where the theme of the heart comes in.
In many different traditions, it’s pointed out that the heart–be that the simple, feeling, human heart or the heart chakra with its internal energy connections–that is the place from which opposites can be reconciled, and a clear pair of opposites is Saturn and Uranus; so the status quo and that which turns the status quo upside-down, including internally. So that can be a shock of any kind, including just the regular, ordinary shocks that we meet through our life, in the process of growing up and becoming socialized and all the rest of it.
And so, Chiron goes looping through and connecting the visible and the invisible, in a process of spiritually maturing; so that may or may not have anything to do with being sick or ill or wounded, per say, but it might. There’s a correlate to that, which is that many people experience major, major awakenings as a direct result of illness and physical suffering and wounds of various kinds; it’s incredibly common.
I’m sure all of you listening will probably know at least one person, probably several, who’ve had those kinds of experiences. You really are taken right out of the familiar, visible, known world if you have an experience, a very severe pain. If you work with that in whatever way makes sense for you, it can really, really be your teacher; and that has been very much part of my life.
I think that’s also one of the reasons I resonated immediately with Chiron. This might sound like a strange thing to say, but I almost feel like the path of working with suffering–our own or others–it is a particular kind of spiritual path. There are lessons we get from our own illnesses and physical sufferings, as well as emotional sufferings, that we don’t get in any other way.
CB: Right. Empathy is a really major component that sometimes comes from suffering. Though I’ve been thinking about lately, in reading one person’s biography, that his repeated instances of loss in his life had allowed him to cultivate a sense of empathy that he might not have had otherwise.
MR: Exactly right. And very often, in the case where Chiron in the horoscope can be seen to symbolize a really particular gift that somebody has, that’s usually a gift that has been bestowed on the back of a lot of suffering. You can’t manipulate that and say, “Oh, let me look at my chart and see what gift my Chiron placement is going to give me, so I can get to that as quick as possible.”
CB: Right, like a short-cut or something.
MR: Exactly right. Because it’s bestowed; you can’t fake that.
CB: Okay. So there’s no cheat codes for Chiron.
CB: So let’s talk about an instance to give a concrete example. Obviously, that makes me think of your example, when you were 10, of having that injury and being in that cast. But then, as a result of that, going to the library and reading a lot and coming across an astrology book and having that initiation into astrology through that.
There was a similar example, earlier this year, when the astrologer Rober Zoller passed away. I released an old interview that I did with him 10 years ago, and he similarly talked about being a very sickly child. And one of the only things that brought him pleasure that he could do was just read fairytales and things like that, and through that, he eventually got into astrology.
That seems to get to the core of part of what you’re talking about, in terms of sometimes people having a pain or an experience of suffering, but something that allows them then to find something else that eventually they’re able to use to help other people in some way, or that becomes part of their personal journey.
MR: Absolutely, yes. A variant on that theme is that where you find Chiron, it does sometimes indicate things that we do extremely well for others, but we can’t do for ourselves; that’s like Chiron not being able to heal his wound. And those things range from just amusing and bothersome to really, really big life patterns that often do eventually come to a crisis, and the person who’s doing for others what they can’t do for themselves has to turn the ship around for their own survival sometimes.
CB: Yeah, I’m thinking of a Chiron connected with relationships, with the 7th house, and maybe somebody that does marriage counseling for other people, but who, themselves, struggles with relationships for whatever reason or another.
MR: Exactly. In fact, I can even think of a couple of examples of exactly that, and very poignantly, who got into the marriage guidance counseling work on the back of an extremely painful separation from her husband. And so, in a sense, she remains subliminally brokenhearted and she has helped a lot of people; that seems to be what happens and how it works.
And then a further level of awakening might well be, “Wow, what am I doing?” needing to redirect that energy to include oneself in the healing field; that’s very common. In fact, often that happens around the Chiron return.
CB: The process of using that to help other people, or the process of finally trying to turn that inside and trying to heal one’s own wounds?
MR: It can be either. What I’ve noticed, around the Chiron return, if people have a healing vocation of any kind, that’s a very common time for it to surface. Now it might sound kind of late in one’s life to be suddenly picking up a healing vocation; most people have known all along that they had that, but for one reason or another didn’t follow it. At the Chiron return, it’s like, “Okay, it’s now or never, and I’m going to do it.”
The other variation is that people who have already been working in any of the fields of healing–I’m using that in a very broad, generic way–it’s not uncommon for them to get to the Chiron return and either give it up completely or retrain in a parallel, but similar field, or take a slightly different road within what they’re doing, like maybe decide to write a book, or become a trainer, etc., and either way, doing a lot of reflecting on their work; it’s very, very common.
And around the Chiron return, this I do want to mention. Of course, one can’t generalize about when women have their menopause, but I think it’s fair to say that, averagely, at least from the experience of people I’ve spoken with, it’s somewhere around 50 years. If it is, this is a really useful piece of information. If the menopause coincides with the Chiron return, astrologically, what we can say is that around that time, every single Chiron aspect that is experienced from the Chiron return onwards is second time around; so it’s the Chiron return of every single aspect to every single thing on your chart, not only the 50-year-old thing.
So what’s relevant about that is that there is this extraordinary process of recapitulation, of recycling experience with Chiron. By the way, he’s not the only planet–he’s not a planet, but for brevity, I call him a planet.
MR: He’s not the only planet where you will find this. If you look deeply enough, you can find it with Saturn to some degree, but it’s very precise with Chiron; almost ridiculously so, sometimes. And in the first few years after the Chiron return, of course, what’s repeating is the period of the precognitive life. So after birth, and before we’ve learned to speak and walk, the memories from those times, most people don’t remember much from that time at all because as we begin to speak and move, it changes the wiring of our brain to the cognitive stage.
Those memories are often present or can be retrieved, if necessary, or occur in dreams, whatever. But the really, really early stuff, even including prenatal, it’s like the Chiron process opens the door on that, to the extent that it might be needed in one’s process–meaning, there might be patterning that originates back there that is still holding you back, or that you are still hurting from, or you don’t understand.
So the Chiron process, if you meet it in a very straight-up way, with healing practices, meditations, etc.–which gives you the chance to open your consciousness wide enough to really, really experience what’s there, even if you don’t understand it–it is amazing. It’s like the veil is pulled back and you get to see and feel and know absolutely what was going on.
And by the way, this doesn’t stop. That will go on for the rest of your life. Any of you who are on a journey of awakening or healing, you will find that this Chiron process I’m talking about–it’s a major accompaniment; it’s like having a friendly centaur coming along with us in our process.
And the way that you work with your own process is pretty much guaranteed to change around the Chiron return because pre-Chiron return, most of us, all we want is, “Just fix it.” We want to fix it and be normal, or be whatever it is we think we should be, but just to fix it. For many people, it’s only once the Chiron return has happened that we really get to understand, “Wow, this whole journey is truly about accepting what is.” I know that sounds like a cliché, but think of the heart theme with Chiron.
Also, a little mythic detail. There was this bird called a griffin which used to peck out the liver of Prometheus everyday and then it would grow back again in the night. As if it wasn’t enough to be chained on this rock, he had this bird pecking his liver. After changing places, the griffin was shot through the heart and gotten rid of. Symbolically, that’s a nagging, self-critical voice that we have to work with in some way or another in our process.
It’s as if, around the Chiron return, the whole energy of all that starts to change, and it’s as if healing begins to occur on whatever level, including making contact with the right healer, the right of whatever persuasion. Meeting somebody who has a really important clue for you in the form of a book or a healing practice and so forth. And you can feel you’re on the stream of healing, and it’s a tremendous grace. It’s this shift from, “I just have to fix this,” to recognizing that, in fact, our life is a healing journey and becoming more and more skilled and more and more gracious and empathic about how we meet that; that’s what brings also the gift of healing to other people. So that’s some of the ways I would understand this notion of the Wounded Healer.
CB: That’s brilliant. And that makes sense because it’s only after that first 50 years that transiting Chiron has done a complete lap, all the way around your chart, and you’ve experienced all the possible aspects and permutations of Chiron’s aspects, both to its natal position, as well as to other planets in your chart; you can really look back and reflect on that full cycle and understand it.
MR: Exactly. And I missed a link here, an important one. If we’ve developed the capacity to roll with this sacred healing journey that we’re all on–because every single person, in some way or another, is going to suffer in their lives–it’s not just about fixing it; it’s about the compassion to let the energies roll in the way that they need to, if that makes sense.
Now I’ve noticed that around menopause, women who do have that kind of a practice–they’ve cultivated that or are starting to–seem to have less symptoms of terrible premenstrual tension or mood swings or night sweats or anything of these things. And it seems as if people who are really frightened of their own process or haven’t yet had the good fortune to make the right connections to support them in that risk somatizing some of the very powerful, physical experiences that will come through to a woman at menopause.
If we take the year of the Chiron return as a kind of a birth, a rebirth, then we can take the year before that kicks in exact as the recap of the prenatal time, and there can be some extremely strange physical sensations that come forth when that’s recapitulating. In traditional healing systems, they have huge wisdom about the prenatal life and its significance. In Western medicine, they do have some of that, but approach it in a very different way; basically seeming to always be looking for what’s wrong, not perhaps understanding the spiritual significance of what’s going on.
The process of being beset with symptoms can be hugely alleviated for many women if they are ready to undertake this kind of a healing journey. Obviously, some people do really have symptoms that really need attending to, so I’m not recommending that you just ignore them. But I know from working with clients that there’s something about connecting in with one’s own cosmic rhythms that it does the body good as well; we forget that sometimes.
CB: Right. Yeah, it’s hard sometimes when there’s illnesses that can be psychosomatic in origin, but then other times there’s physical illnesses and ailments that people have that are independent of that, to some extent.
CB: So I want to back up. One of the things you really focus on in your book and spend a lot of time talking about is just the notion that the house position of Chiron as potentially being an area of life that is initially blocked, wounded, or not functioning in top capacity, to some extent, and being, maybe, ground zero or the starting point for understanding the transiting Chiron cycle and its aspects, especially back to itself.
CB: So we talked about and we gave an example of Chiron in the 7th house and wounding surrounding relationships. But could we talk about some other house placements of Chiron and how that might manifest in an initial instance of wounding, just to give some examples?
MR: Yes. The other thing I’d want to add to that is the house position of the ruling planet of Chiron’s sign–that really speaks volumes. If you understand a bit or have got a felt connection with Chiron in terms of some of the themes that it embodies and portrays, with a very little bit of other astrological knowledge–house sign, aspects, dispositor or ruler, that kind of thing–with just that, you’ve got enough information to begin to help you to see because the manifestations of Chiron can vary a lot.
Very interesting. Sometimes it’s as if they’re not visible to the person. They could have studied Chiron, read all the books, have classes, and they don’t get it; they’re not seeing it. That’s part of a kind of defense because it’s quite likely that there is perhaps an area of pain that’s being covered over there. It doesn’t have to be a specific, actual wound–like in my case, a broken bone–or a trauma of abuse of various kinds and so forth, but it can be where there is this kind of existential pain. Fundamentally, spiritually, I feel that’s where the deepest sense of disconnection from the Great Source will actually register.
Now that can show itself through all kinds of other things, all kinds of other quirks, but at its base, it’s our felt alienation from our spiritual source and that’s where the healing comes from. So there’s not one way of doing that, or even one right way, but it’s where the thing that we struggle with, we gradually peel back the layers and peel back the layers and then realize, “Wow, this is what’s underneath this,” and there we have something to work with.
This is an example from my own life. So I have Chiron in Sagittarius–I think I mentioned it–and my Jupiter is very closely-conjunct my IC–which, by the way, I call the “I Don’t See,” because that’s often how it is; it’s lying hidden–and it was a very specific, whole trail in my life, for me.
As I mentioned, I was born in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe. On one level, witnessing that change from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, it was like an experience of rebirth. There was a newborn country and everything, everything had changed, and it was as if decades, centuries of history had just been washed away. Absolutely, ecstatically wonderful. Had so many interesting experiences. Learned so much, etc.
Now when things started to go wrong in Zimbabwe, I can’t begin to tell you what I went through. It was like I had no sense of distance from this. I was profoundly identified to the ruler of Chiron on the 4th house–the home, the country, the family and all that. And I cried endlessly; I did rituals, I did all kinds of things.
And then, it was at one UAC, I had a conversation with the wonderful astrologer Branka Stamenovic. You know her?
MR: And she said to me–I can’t do the accent, so you’ll have to imagine it. She said, “One thing you and I share, it’s homeland pain. People who haven’t lost their homeland–as she had–they can’t understand what this is. You understand it, and I understand it. It’s called ‘homeland pain’.” I never forgot that. And it’s as if once I identified that, there was a long, long period of needing to work inwardly to reclaim the energy of necessity that had been invested in that.
And so, I tend to get a lot of clients who have homeland pain, or who have worked with very painful issues to do with either they are mixed-race or there’s an issue about racial origins and how they feel about that and so forth–very, very 4th house, all of it. So that’s the ruler of Chiron in the 4th.
CB: Yeah, even though I don’t work a lot with asteroids, it’s not that I don’t believe in them because I have Chiron conjunct the IC. And while it’s not the only thing in my chart that would indicate this–and you can see it traditionally or classically as well–but having Chiron conjunct the IC, losing my father at the age five to cancer–and that being an early experience of loss of a parent as being an early Chiron type experience of wounding or what have you–I could identify with that. I mean, there’s other placements–like having the Sun conjunct Saturn or other things like that that are also relevant–but it’s interesting how the asteroids can layer on additional nuances of interpretation on top of things.
MR: Yeah, additional detail. What I’ve also found about Chiron, in fact, any of the centaurs, they’re like portals to the underworld, the realm of death. So at one or other points in our lives, all of us become aware of death and physical mortality. And with Chiron there in the 4th, I would imagine that very young experience of loss just may have opened the doors to that, whether or not the rest of your family spoke about it in those terms.
CB: Right, so those are really concrete examples–in your case, your place of origin and living situation and homeland, and also, ideas of ancestry and things like that that are 4th house topics, or for me, concrete things like parents. If we were talking about other houses, the 1st house seems a little obvious, that it could be more bodily issues or struggling with health or illness issues perhaps.
MR: Indeed. With Chiron in the 1st house, the person is often engaging with their own sense of woundedness, whether it’s obvious or not. I mean, some people even might have a physical deformity that they might successfully hide but which limits life and things like that; it’s often very specific there. And then if it’s Chiron in the 7th house, that can be a theme where the person is always looking after other people. They might have even made a profession out of it; if not, it’s something to be curious about.
There’s a kind of triad around Chiron’s energy in terms of how it might express–there’s the healer and there’s the one who is afflicted, and then there’s also the one who does the afflicting. I forget the name of the guy who did this–this is back from the 1970s–“Remember, victim and persecutor and healer.” Do you remember that? Or was it healer, victim, and persecutor? Anyway, it’s now called the something-or-other triangle; you do see that around Chiron.
I was horrified when I was researching in a bit more detached way–not just with my own process and my clients and so forth. I was pretty shocked to find a number of famous serial killers who all had extremely strong Chirons, but they did it by doing the wounding. It was really then that I began to understand how in the main, people who wound do so on the back of their wounding.
So when there’s pain there that just isn’t processed, there’s a kind of knee-jerk reaction to put it out there to make somebody feel how you feel; and that can all be totally unconscious. The most dangerous thing about unprocessed suffering is it will go and do it to somebody else if the pressure ratchets up.
And of course, that’s what history’s made of. Wars come and people are pumped up as heroes. They’re paid by people who just want to take over from a motivation of greed and money and exploitation and territory and all that kind of thing, or internecine struggles of one kind or another. It’s a whole kind of bloodletting thing which brings the opportunity for people to just act out the unresolved pain that they feel inside themselves by inflicting it on somebody else.
CB: That’s a really interesting point. So it means in terms of Chironic wounding, not everybody’s going to grow up and take that wound and then become a shaman and start helping other people. Some people are just going to become the one who does that to other people, in a negative sense.
I looked up the triangle, and it looks like it’s called the Karpman Trauma Triangle. The three pieces are the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor.
MR: Yes, that’s exactly it.
MR: Yeah, so there’s a similar one with Chiron. And so, from one point of view, even if it were possible to switch off the world and all its wars and everything going on, it would probably take hundreds of years to process all of the suffering that’s already been generated. In that sense, finding the way to process one’s own suffering, and perhaps, even a bit wider than that–meaning to take on even more than just your own little share through prayer, through ritual, through whatever means make sense–it makes a difference to the whole field in which we live.
That’s not just a belief. I’ve seen that kind of stuff in action; I’m sure a lot of your listeners have. The kind of thing that we could call the Chironic Mysteries are really all to do with the experience of pain and suffering and the healing thereof, in such a way that there’s an opening of consciousness. It’s not just about fixing a broken arm, if that makes sense to you.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. The last thing we haven’t talked about, that is a little bit more mysterious, for me, would be the 10th house in terms of what would the wound potentially be with somebody with Chiron conjunct the Midheaven or in the 10th house.
MR: It could be a chronic sense of not feeling recognized. Often with our sufferings, things are not as they seem. We think that we’re hurting because of x, y and z, and then the more we inquire and work with it, “Oh, no, it’s not that. It’s something else.”
And so, needing the approval of the world, that’s a potential 10th house theme, in one way or another. When Chiron is up there, many different expressions can happen, but there can be an incredible feeling of pain if one doesn’t feel recognized enough.
There’s a twist on that one too. It can sometimes be that the person can’t handle recognition and being applauded and celebrated and so forth. They may be coming from such a lack of that that it threatens to overturn all the known and familiar structures, and so, they freeze or turn their back on it because so much pain comes up; that’s a really interesting one.
And then, of course, Chiron in the 10th, usually professionally-involved in the field of healing in some way. I remember a lovely example of this; this was a woman who actually ran the admin desk in a hospital. I was very curious about the Chiron, and eventually, it came up about what she was doing and so forth.
In the conversation, it came out that she had wanted to be a doctor, but she didn’t really have the intellect to get through the exams, and then she wanted to be a nurse, as a kind of second-best, and she became ill and didn’t get through the physical exam to enroll. But she wanted to work somewhere in the field of healing, and so, she trained in management and all that and did all this admin; but I could feel this woman’s vibe; I could feel the healer in the room.
I said to her, “Well, have you ever trained in any other kind of healing?” because I could feel it.; and she looked a bit like the rabbit in the headlights. I’d kind of caught her out or something, so I didn’t say anything more. And then she said, “Well, I don’t usually talk about this, but I did train as a spiritual healer, and I feel it’s my job to look after all the people who do the frontline nursing and doctoring and surgeons and all the rest of it.” She said, “I just sit at my typewriter and I answer the phone and I do all these things, but I’m actually giving them healing.” Wow. That was a very memorable one.
And then, of course, being the 10th house, it can be where there’s a healer who gets quite a bit of profile, who either himself embodies the archetype of the Wounded Healer, or who kind of takes on the establishment over some particular aspect of medical lore or commercial exploitation of the medical profession–all of these things.
By the way, with all of the above, when I did the revision of the Chiron book–we were talking a little about this before we pushed on the recording.
CB: Right, because the book is up to its fourth edition, and you’ve done substantial revisions, so I was curious what is new in the latest edition that you’ve changed over the 20 years since you published it.
MR: Yeah, so first published in 1989. There were two editions when it was still with Penguin, and there were just minor corrections and a new cover; the text didn’t change at all.
MR: But the 2010 edition, which I published myself at Starwalker Press, I pretty much rewrote the book.
MR: Now the reason I felt it was necessary to do that was, firstly, the first edition predates the discovery of the Kuiper Belt, with all of this wonderful astronomy, which just is poetry in the sky in terms of what Chiron and the centaurs mean. I just thought I can’t possibly bring out the same old text without including all this marvelous, new astronomy. So I just thought, well, I’ll put in a whole new section relating to that.
Then I started just doing a kind of proofread-thing. As I’m sure you know, you can never proofread a book enough.
MR: It doesn’t matter how much you do, you always find mistakes.
MR: So in section four, which is called “Spirit of the Age”, I realized two things–one, that just simply on a practical level, a lot of the people who I wrote about had died, or more development on their stories and so forth; and I just thought this needs to be updated, it really does.
But then the big thing, and this was the actual motivation, my hope, vision, feeling when I was writing it the first time–so now we’re going back to the 1980s–given what Chiron represented in the field of healing and it had emerged with the name of the Wounded Healer being tagged onto a celestial body, I thought, surely now, this must represent the rise and the flowering of so-called alternative medicine because it was really burgeoning during those times.
So many people being trained in so many interesting indigenous techniques. Whole schools of things like osteopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, just a whole range of wonderful, different things to do with health. I thought this is where we’re heading–uh, no, that was totally wrong.
MR: What’s happened is the big foot of commercialization, big money, big pharma, big medicine, all of that, has just come down with crash on top of it, to the extent that there is exclusion to the level of persecution. There are even known, excellent, Wounded Healer types who’ve been killed subtly–they have–and it’s an absolute minefield with a lot of very, very upsetting stuff going on as we speak.
The Royal Homeopathic Hospital, whatever you think of them, the Royal Family uses homeopathy.
MR: And that’s probably the only reason it survived here.
CB: Charles is really into it?
MR: Oh, totally, and the Queen. They don’t really say much about this because everybody tries to make out that it’s all stupid and worthless and so forth. But a full, homeopathic hospital in Central London, it almost closed, and it’s been reduced to a shadow of what it was. There was a major cancer clinic using alternatives of various kinds–had a fabulous reputation, lot of fabulous people worked there, lot of healing going on and so forth–and it was closed down by the powers that be.
CB: Yeah, there’s definitely been a lot of pushback. But even in defense of the 1980s era, there have been some forms of alternative medicine, like acupuncture, for example, that has become a bit more mainstream and more accepted in even some scientific circles it seems like.
MR: Yeah, it’s true, but there was a lot of very ugly stuff on the ground. I mean, I know a lot of people who work in those kinds of fields, so I’ve heard many, many stories and have even done pretty vociferous campaigning myself and so forth, but that’s another story.
MR: And I just kept having this sense that in the times that we were in–this is 2010; it came out in 2010–I was writing it during the so-called SARS epidemic; that’s a whole other thing. But I just had this phrase in my head–and that phrase is somewhere in the book–that to remain healthy in the times we are living in is an act of true revolution, and I mean that.
To stay healthy, mostly, you really do have to change your mental cosmology and structure of understanding because so much of the common medicine that we need today has either already sold out to commerce a long time ago or it’s on the way there, and there’s a lot of absolutely disgraceful things that have happened in the name of healing and medicine. So to return to the true basis of health, which has to have a spiritual connection, is part of what I would think of as a healing journey.
And this is connected to the whole momentum of Chiron that kind of started in the 1980s. Well, it was discovered in 1977 and then worked on by various people, including me. Now it’s almost like the ultimatum is getting even more clear that it is an act of revolution to manage to or intend to stay healthy in these times, especially now that we’re in a pandemic.
CB: Right. Well, it’ll be interesting in the next decade. It was discovered in 1977; so we’re coming up pretty soon on Chiron doing one full orbital cycle since its discovery.
MR: I know–the Chiron return. I hope I’m still alive, wow. I really do.
CB: It was discovered at 3° of Taurus, and Chiron is currently at about 7° of Aries. I was looking–around 2027 or something, it’ll get into early Taurus.
MR: Yes. There will actually be three direct hits of the return.
MR: I don’t have the dates with me, but it goes way into 2008 as well.
CB: Into 2028?
CB: Okay, here it is. It looks like it’s already into Taurus by 2026.
MR: Oh, yes, but I’m just thinking of the ‘exact’ exact, you know.
MR: That’s 2027 and ‘28.
CB: Got it. Okay, so here’s the first exact hit in May or June 2027, give or take.
CB: Yeah, so that was actually one of the questions from a listener. A lot of the books on Chiron came out within the first decade of the release. I know there were two questions that were similar, and I was curious what your reflections are now several decades later–one of them was from a listener named Diana Schaap who said, “Chiron is so new. Is it fair to say that we may not understand it? How many years does it take to see correlations between planets and earthly events?” And another person, Claire Moon, similarly said…
MR: Yeah, all really great questions. I don’t think that one can arbitrarily designate how long it takes to understand something because I think it’s a process. And the more we stay with something–both individually, and of course, collectively–the deeper that knowledge goes.
CB: Do you feel like you’ve had some evolution of your views of Chiron since you wrote the book in 1989?
CB: Any specific things besides some of your frustrations with alternative medicine not going as mainstream? Are there specific, technical, interpretive things that you’ve developed more over the past 30 years?
MR: Yes, and the main thing is the importance of the ancestral realm and the way the centaurs, including Chiron, kind of open that up. Now that was mentioned in the first edition, but it seemed like that was what was continually presenting with clients that I would see, and of course, in my own process. And this really makes sense to me partly based on there’s more knowledge that I have, at least, of some of the African tribal cultures around where I come from.
So the ancestors are extremely important in that culture. Anthropologists might call them ancestor worshippers, but that is so not what’s going on. What’s going on there is that the ancestors are seen like a membrane that protects the living, a membrane in the spiritual world that protects the living from negative influences in the astral; that’s just my way of describing it.
But they talk about the individual person needing safety and protection in the spiritual world in the same way as you have a physical house that protects you from the elements or from people who might come to want to rob you or whatever. Ideally, a family, and the neighborhood, and the village, they are part of that safety system; and thus, it is with the ancestors in the spiritual world. So the ancestors occupy the same realm as the centaurs because they’re in between the visible and the invisible.
I’ve also had the great good fortune to be able to do quite a lot of ancestral work, in one way or another, and have spoken to numerous people who, likewise, have done that. And the way that the process is signified with such precision by the centaurs is just totally incredible. I mean, it really is; you couldn’t make it up.
CB: So part of your process after publishing the book on Chiron in 1989 was expanding it to focus on the other centaurs.
CB: What are the other ones that incorporate, specifically?
MR: So I use three more in order of their discovery: Pholus, Nessus, and Chariklo, who’s the wife of Chiron. Very interesting. A few years ago, I had occasion to do quite a lot of work on her because I kept getting people with a very prominent Chariklo.
Now there are more centaurs. The other ones don’t really have a fully fleshed-out characterology in the mythology or much of a storyline really; they’re mainly associated with one anecdote, perhaps, connected with another centaur, or a god or goddess, or a demigod or something. They don’t feel like rounded-out characters, to me, maybe because they just haven’t spoken to me. But these four absolutely do, and there’s also the mythology, especially with Pholus and Nessus, is really, really rich; there’s a lot to go from.
By 1989, I was ‘centaured’ out, I can tell you, when I was actually writing to contract. I’d spent almost a decade collecting material and I had boxes of notes and stuff; this was before computers. And when Chiron had finally published, I thought, “Okay, that’s it; enough centaurs, enough of that,” etc.
And my ‘centaur’ buddy, Brian Clark, from Australia–I vividly remember–he would send me these faxes from New Scientist magazine or other things: “New Centaurs Being Discovered.” “Oh, no! No, I’m not going to work with them. Enough already. This was too much.” I would write him back or fax him back and say, “Thanks, Brian, that’s great,” and I actually wasn’t even looking at them; they would come through by fax in those days. I was screwing it up and putting it in the bin because I refused–I’m not doing this.
I did that for a few years and then there was a string of synchronicities I absolutely could not ignore. And I basically said, “Okay, I agree. I’ll do some more work.” It was like that. It was extraordinary.
CB: Yeah, so you felt like this was your work and your call to do it at different points, despite your resistance.
MR: Yes, exactly. And of course, once I was into it, it was just very joyful. Lot of hard work, but very joyful.
CB: One of the things that’s happening now is we’re having the discovery of new, really large, minor planets in the outer ring of the solar system, and astrologers are starting to think about how to incorporate those or how to study those, especially bodies like Eres.
Do you have any advice that you’ve learned from being an early pioneer in studying Chiron–if you could go back and do it all over again–that you would have applied, if you were trying to study some of these newly-discovered planetary bodies?
MR: Yes, but first, I would like to respond to that great question with a quote from Richard Tarnas. Now he doesn’t remember saying this, but I know that what I’m going to say was captured on a recording at the Astrological Association Conference, in Canterbury, in 1994. It was a panel discussion, and somebody–who was in fact a new astrology student–asked in general to the panel precisely that question. And this was long before the discovery of the centaurs and the TNOs and all that; I think she might have been referring to the asteroids; but just different techniques that you could apply to the horoscope, like harmonics and midpoints, and “What about draconic astrology?” and all these things.
So her question was, “How do I know what to use?” And this is what Richard Tarnas said; this is verbatim; I never forgot it. He said, “In astrology, you can only work with what is burnished into your soul and of.” In other words, like I was saying earlier, I’m not really a researcher. I don’t really have a researcher’s mind, but I know how to keep going on a trail once I really feel called.
That’s a different kind of experience than just being wildly curious or wanting to know about something. It’s like your entire energy body is involved–your body, your feelings, your mind, your imagination is, “Boom!” Now I only work with that, otherwise, I think I’d go mad. I’ve probably got too much air in my horoscope to be a researcher because I would be crazy.
So the advice–yes, I would say unless you’ve got a really good, grounded mind–something really helpful, like a lot of Virgo, or maybe a good Saturn-Mercury aspect, or a 3rd house which has got some good earth planets in there and so forth–take care that you don’t scramble yourself with that; and find your own way to have that not happen because it’ll spoil it for you.
My way, as I’ve described, is I can only work with what I feel is burnished into my soul, truly, and that narrows the field rather well. It also makes it a wonderfully surprising thing, like when I began to work with Chariklo. It was quite a few years since I’d had any major centaur downloads, but this happened out the blue, in the middle of a session with a client, so, wow.
So I would say, if you’ve got the kind of mind that can stay grounded and stay organized, open up a file with different sections. Well, today, you’d probably do that on a computer, but most of my Chiron notes, they were in an old-fashioned, ring binder file with divisions–1st house, 2nd house and so on and so forth–and that was how the material grew. I just endlessly, endlessly made notes and that really worked for me. I think, in general, a good approach is to be structured with it, and also, be clear about why you’re doing that. I know, for me, it was very clear because these were all happening in my life, with my transits. I absolutely felt I needed to understand this process a bit because it was actually happening to me or in my life.
Now with the extra Plutonians–the TNOs and the SDOs and all of these weird things, some of which are wonderful, marvelous–I did go through a phase where I deliberately decided to try to learn about them; I made some headway and it was really interesting. I even did a workshop together with Steven Forrest on this because he was doing the same thing–that was huge fun; it was wonderful. After I had done all that work, it didn’t really stick because they were not burnished into my soul–fair enough. So be systematic, be organized, and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
In the wisdom tradition, which is astrology–it’s really the same as many of the other wisdom traditions–there’s a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. And so, wisdom is really only given on a need-to-know business. To ask yourself why you might be doing something in astrology, it’s always an interesting inquiry because there is a part of us that has to know things, needs to know things, wants to figure it all out.
And, in part, that’s a great motivation to be learning astrology because the learning is absolutely endless. But at the same time, there can be a very unhelpful, ego-driven aspect of that which isn’t wrong, but it’s good to be aware of that, so that it doesn’t pull you all over. So therefore, take charge of that wish. Be structured, pace it, and let the journey unfold as it will–that’s what I would say. I hope that’s helpful.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s good. In preparation for this episode, one of the things that I was doing was just using Solar Fire and searching for everybody in my files that has Chiron conjunct the Descendant within a 3° orb or something like that.
What do you think? Is that too tight? What kind of orbs do you use?
MR: Well, that’s another good question. Now in a general way, I would use the same orbs that you’re comfortable with as you would use for Saturn.
MR: But now, depending on what I’m trying to do in a given astrology project, I do sometimes play fast and loose with the whole question of orbs because what makes more sense to me is to really listen to the person. When I say listen, I don’t only mean the words that they’re saying– because some clients hardly speak–but you need to learn to listen to their energies, to intuit, to feel the reality of this person who’s horoscope you’re reading, you see. And in that case, they might be saying things, that if your idea about the right orb is too narrow, you’re going to miss it.
MR: You’re going to miss the planetary magic that they’re telling you about. And I remember when that really came home to me; this is quite a while back now. I had a client who I really, really liked so much, and she had been through hell and high water in her life with illness. The result for her was she was left very, very sensitized which was sometimes difficult for her, but mostly, very enriching.
She came and started talking about what was happening in her Pluto transit, and I remember sitting there and thinking, “Wait a minute, Pluto is applying by 12° to this woman’s Sun. And she doesn’t really understand anything about astrology, so what’s going on?” I just dropped all that and just listened. And what was absolutely clear was she was picking up the resonance already, and it was 12° applying, which is really a lot. So after that I became maybe a little less fixed in my mind and decided to just try to listen out to the words, the vibes, whatever the person would say. And if they are speaking the astrological symbolism, well, then those planets are in orb; so that’s my basic policy.
Chris, you would know about this, I’m sure–is it true that way back in the day, in some of the old traditions, they would refer to planets being conjunct if they were in the same sign and house? Is that true?
CB: Yeah, if they were anywhere in the same sign, they would consider them to be in a conjunction and interpret it that way, and they would just treat it as becoming more intense, the closer they’d get by degree.
MR: Right. Yeah, so that’s an example, but that’s a great question.
CB: So I know we need to wrap up soon, but I just wanted to mention there were a few other keywords that I don’t know if we mentioned; I just wanted to run them by you really quickly. One of them was doing for others what we cannot do for ourselves, also the theme of sacrifice and being separated from something that we feel we can’t live without. And finally, another area that you talk about in the book was a feeling of exile.
MR: Oh, yes, that’s quite a big one because the centaurs in the mythology, they never inhabited the cities. They lived in the caves that surround the villages and the cities and so forth, out in the wilds. If you go now, today–I don’t know about precisely today; it’s maybe 15 years since I was last there. But if you go to Mt. Pelion, which is the archetypal, mythological home of the centaurs, it is a real place, in a real mountain.
Every second cafe, store, little hotel, anything, they all have little boards with something to do with kéntauros–that’s the centaur–and loads of people who want to take you to Chiron’s cave. And there are lots and lots of Chiron’s caves, and everybody says, “No, no, this is the real one,” so that’s very amazing. I went off the rails there with your question.
CB: Whether there are other core themes. We’ve touched upon them briefly, but just ideas of sacrifice, being separated from something.
MR: Yes, that was the notion of the exile. So the centaurs, they lived outside the city, but the main ones–the ones that are named–often had a shamanic kind of a role vis–à–vis the humans. They were the healers, the diviners, that kind of thing, and they inhabited this in-between realm; again, it’s between the city and the country. So they’re not in the country and totally disconnected from anything to do with human society, but they certainly aren’t city dwellers either.
CB: Right. Because they’re half-animal, they’re sort of cast out of human society, but still interact with it in different ways.
MR: Yes, and of course, have a very special relationship with the energies of nature and the Earth.
CB: Okay. And then, finally, just that idea of being separated from something that we feel as if we can’t live without seems to be a major recurring theme that we touched upon a few times, when we were going through some of the houses; but that seems like a good underlying theme to keep in mind.
MR: Yes, because of the extraordinary connection between the centaurs and Pluto who is the lord of the underworld, and therefore, presides over the experience of loss. There’s a very strong resonance with Chiron there. I mean, the astronomical similarities are incredible. All the centaurs and Pluto–as I think I mentioned, but just to repeat–they all have elliptical orbits that are steeply-inclined to the ecliptic, and they all crossover at least one of the orbits of the classical planets.
Pluto, lord of the underworld, is also like the ‘king’ of the Kuiper Belt, and the centaurs are like the agents or emissaries, or even the escapees from the underworld. It’s like they are our guides in very underworldly kinds of experiences, where there might be immense suffering because we’re ill or bereaved, or because of painful things happening to those we’re really close to, whatever it is. And so, it seems to me that the centaurs are our little guides in those underworldly regions.
Normally, we just think of Pluto, lord of the underworld–dark, black, heavy, contracted kind of stuff. But in pretty much all cultures who’ve got any connection still with the energies of the Earth, the underworld is thought to be under the Earth, and they’re the realm of the dead. It’s not like, “Oh, it’s the realm of the dead, pfft, that’s it,” it’s full of different zones. The Greek underworld has many, many different zones in it–Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, and the place called Aornos–and all different things happen in these zones. It’s not just one, uniform horror.
And it is also very much the realm that opens up if we, for example, go into Jungian analysis or work deeply with our dreams and so forth. It’s as if these little critters represent this energy of being able to handle paradox, being able to handle dilemma in order that something deeper than the duality can come through; I think that’s really what they’re about.
CB: Okay, brilliant. Are there any other final things we should mention about Chiron before we wrap up that I completely spaced out or forgot to mention?
MR: There’s a listener question here from Claire Moon. Did we mention that?
CB: Yeah, I think we got that one. It was just tied in with the idea of how long it’s been around. The two other ones we haven’t touched on were…
MR: That was with Diana.
MR: But the next question, I don’t think we did. Was it Claire Moon–with that review that I told you about? Did we talk about that?
CB: What part? Oh, right. So one of your early reviews of the book, not long after it first came out, was kind of funny.
CB: Even though, in retrospect, it seems like there was this wave of astrologers getting into the asteroids and writing books about them, occasionally, I’m sure you got pushback as well, right, or skepticism?
MR: You know, I didn’t really.
CB: Not so much? Okay.
MR: I really, really didn’t, and I don’t really know why. This was pre-Internet days; it came out before the Internet. As long as I’ve lived in England, there’s been an amazing astrological community here that pretty much covers all bases in terms of all different approaches–psychological, traditional, academic, horary. You name it, it’s all here, and this is a very small island. It’s as if because we know the people, there’s an amazing amount of really positive exchange.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not without its tribal horrors; there’s no group that can get away from that. But I guess, overall, because there’s so many different approaches and so many different kinds of astrologers, all doing wonderful astrology things in a relatively small area, I didn’t really get any negative pushback, which I have to say I was hugely grateful for; it would have been horrible.
CB: Sure. What was the book review that you did get at one point?
MR: I love this. So it was a reviewer who said a lot somewhat grudging positive things about the book, and then said something like, “Well, if you’re somebody who believes that a fully fleshed-out description of Chiron is possible in such a short amount of time–since it was discovered–well, then maybe this book is for you,” i.e., it’s not for me, the reviewer.
And then the final sentence–this is verbatim; I never forgot it. I dined out on this, and I wanted it on my epitaph. “However, if Reinhart is massively disconnected from reality, at least she has done it in style.” I roared with laughter. I phoned up my friend and said, “Listen to this. I want it on my epitaph.”
CB: Yeah, that was very eloquent praise. As a review, that’s pretty good. You should put that on one of the future editions of the book, on the back cover.
MR: I didn’t even think of that.
CB: It might be fun. All right, thank you. I don’t want to take up more of your time. I know we could keep talking all day, but it’s been two hours.
MR: Really? I didn’t even look at the clock. I’ve really enjoyed having a conversation with you. It’s been great.
CB: Yeah, me too. Thank you so much for doing this. We have been in the process of setting this up for a few months now, and I’m really glad that it finally came together. I did want to give a shoutout and a thanks to my partner Leisa Schaim for her help researching this episode because she’s a big fan of Chiron.
MR: Oh, wonderful. Big thanks to Leisa.
CB: Yes, definitely. And what do you have coming up? Do you have any classes or events or projects that you’re working on right now for the future?
MR: Yes. Weekend after next, there’s a weekend conference hosted by the London School of Astrology and the Mayo School; they’re both here in England. It’s an amazing lineup really, and I’ll be doing a kind of workshop thing. That means a long session, three hours, obviously, with a gap. And I’m also doing something for Astrology University. It’s not yet up and advertised yet, but it’ll be on the 19th of December.
In between, a couple of things local, where I’m hoping they’re going to be live, but actually, I don’t think they are going to be. And I’m also considering starting a small group which would be like a weekly, biweekly, monthly kind of thing. I probably wouldn’t do that until the beginning of next year. But if I do start that, it would be on the events page of my website, or I would mention it in one of my occasional newsletters that’s for subscribers. There’s a signup thing on the homepage of my website if you want to get that news.
CB: And your website is MelanieReinhart.com?
MR: Yeah, that’s it.
CB: Okay, great. So people can find out information about those events, they can sign up for your newsletter there. And I’ll put a link to that in the description, either below this video on YouTube or on the description page on theastrologypodcast.com website.
MR: That’s great. So my website really is like an unruly jungle; in that sense, a bit centauric.
MR: I mean, it really needs a good prune and a good redo, which I will get to at some point. In other words, there’s a lot of digging that you can do. There’s a lot of content on it.
CB: Yeah, it’s been really helpful, as I was getting ready for this episode, so people should definitely check it out. They should also get the fourth edition of your book. When was the latest edition put out? Was it 2010 or more recent than that?
MR: It was 2010.
MR: In fact, if any of you listening are Dutch speakers, now there is a new edition of the Dutch language translation in preparation as we speak. And when I was working with the translator, she picked up a few things, mostly in section four, which, like I said, the people had died or the situation had changed and so on and so forth. She said, “Well, do you want to update this or write a little extra piece?” I said, “Yeah, great.”
So by the end of the year, it will be the Dutch language translation that’ll be the most recent edition. But at some point, I guess I’ll have to do another small revision of Chiron, but the 2010 one still stands.
CB: Okay, great. Yeah, people can find that on your website, or they can find links to that on Amazon. There’s a Kindle version as well.
MR: Exactly. There is a page on my website where you can buy my titles, if you want, and they’re all available on Amazon, and also other various book retailers, like Gardner’s, Kobo, and all these things. I try to make them as available as possible.
CB: Great. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
MR: Well, likewise. It’s been great. I could talk for another few hours with you.
CB: Yeah. Well, maybe we’ll have to do this again sometime to talk about some of the other centaurs and some of your other work with those.
CB: Brilliant. All right, well, thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons and supporters, and we’ll see you again next time.
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